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ThermoJax 12-23-2010 07:46 AM

a fully saturated oven.
Today, I will start my holiday cooking for a crowd. I have a number of pieces of meat to roast, but it was pointed out by more experienced members of the board that some of the things that I did not like about my first roasting attempt could have been due to a less than fully heat saturated oven. So, starting about 9 am this morning I have started a fire in the oven. I am taking somewhat of a risk by not only not using oven/kiln dried wood,the way I would if I was cooking pizza, but rather, I am using 2 5-6 inch wide logs with bark on them, on a small log holder, with coals under the holder and a couple of oven dried logs about the size of your wrist (all oak). My plan is to run that fire for a couple of hours and start the roasting about noon. Those bigger logs should burn for hours. Next time I split wood, I hope to not be lazy and leave anything bigger than my wrist. 5 to 6 inch logs seem too big. I have just cut up stew beef, which will be roasted and then combined with the usual all for the next few days as stew is always better the next day. Later today I will also do a 15 lb brisket. A little apprehensive over that one.

But I do think the fully saturated heated oven will be the key to success.

Tman1 12-23-2010 07:51 AM

Re: a fully saturated oven.
Nothing like jumping in with both feet! Good luck!!

Neil2 12-23-2010 09:12 PM

Re: a fully saturated oven.
You have to experiment. "Fully saturated" is a function of heating up the 4 1/2 inch brick layer all the way through. With my oven (a 40 inch dome), this is at about 2 1/2 hours with a full fire. Beyond that I'm wasting wood.

texassourdough 12-24-2010 06:01 AM

Re: a fully saturated oven.
I agree with Neil in that most ovens need at least 2 hours to reasonably approach saturation- and potentially much longer for a barrel oven, say 4 hours. (A well insulated Pompeii MAY be shorter but not too much and I leave that for Pompeii owners to address) Then, assuming you are going to close the oven, you need to close the door and let it heat soak/equalize. The temperature will drop pretty dramatically over the first hour or so as the temperature equalizes through the refractory. Then you will have a fairly stable, slowly declining temperature oven to roast, bake, cook in over the next day or two.

Every oven is different. The only way to learn your oven is to use it and to try different approaches and to pay attention to the temperature profiles in your oven.

KEmerson 01-09-2011 09:02 AM

Re: a fully saturated oven.
On the topic of second loads: How long should it take for an oven to get back up to a bake-able temp if you are doing two loads of bread? After the first load is out, the door replaced, before loading up a second time? Allowing that the oven has been successfully heat saturated, of course. And roughly how close to the original temps can be expected? So that, say, if I first load up when the oven is at 550, remove the bread when done and see that the oven has dropped to, say, 480 or so, how much time should it take to get back to... well, what's it going to back up to, as another question?

texassourdough 01-09-2011 12:05 PM

Re: a fully saturated oven.
Hi Kim!

The questions you are asking are somewhat oven specific. In my experience when I remove the bread my oven temp will be around 435 for my first batch (based on multiple readings in the low dome - the hearth will be cooler. My temp will usually bounce back to around 500 in about 20 minutes and be ready for round 2, but this is a function of how well heat loaded it is - for both the time and temp. The lighter the oven and the lower the heat saturation the lower that "bounce back" temp can be expected to be.

KEmerson 01-09-2011 12:34 PM

Re: a fully saturated oven.
I understand the oven specific concept well. But it's good to have a ball-park idea of what to expect. I just had my first success with two batches after our earlier discussions (on another thread) but I worried I was winging things a bit much and I needed some sort of idea as to time between loads. I know I had a well saturated oven - maybe as saturated as it can get, I think. And I think I waited maybe 15 minutes before reloading. The second load was as drop-dead gorgeous as he first so in a sense, my asking is just confirmation if I nailed it already. Good. Great! Thanks.

texassourdough 01-09-2011 07:49 PM

Re: a fully saturated oven.
Sounds like you nailed it Kim! When well loaded the oven will rebound pretty quickly if there is nothing in the oven to keep it from doing so (i.e. dough or a pot roast or...) From my experience 15 minutes would be quite reasonable. I suspect the temperature might peak a bit higher with a longer rest, but... too long and the temp will start dropping again and you don't want that.

Put up some pics! Please!


KEmerson 01-09-2011 08:01 PM

Re: a fully saturated oven.
Well I'm planning an extra test for me this weekend as I'm having a couple of friends over for pizza and then I'll do some breads. I'd like to get two loads in after the pizza is out. And I might go so far as to toss in a roast of some sort to slow cook on the lower temps after the bread. I know people do this all the time but it's my maiden voyage in these waters and the challenge is just too much to turn from. I love this stuff! As I might have said before, I follow the only Tao saying I know, "The only failure is the failure to try." So as long as I try, I can't fail. Besides, failure is the laboratory for learning so how bad could it be?

So pics might well be coming soon.
Thanks, Jay

david s 01-10-2011 03:33 AM

Re: a fully saturated oven.
I hardly ever fully saturate my oven for baking or roasting. For one it takes too long and two it uses more fuel. I usually just light the fire and set my stopwatch then after one hour I let the flame die. The oven will be typically around 300C I then brush the few coals to the perimeter and throw in the roast, or bread. Because the oven is not fully saturated the temp tends to drop off faster, but it's plenty for a roast or a few loaves of bread. If cooking pork for example this regime works very well because the initial high heat raises the crackling the it settles down for a slower cook. Bread only takes about 30 mins so very little fuel and heat is wasted by this method.These ovens can be too efficient. After cooking pizzas we often have to wait until 11 pm so the oven is cool enough to cook some bread for the next morning.

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